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The Graduate

Life after the Mount

Katelyn Phelan
MSM Class of 2011

(Sept, 2011) One year ago the class of 2011 was preparing to go back to the Mount for its final year. This year our parents, for some odd and mysterious reason, refused to pay for a fifth year. So we were denied the option of enrolling again and becoming "super seniors" and were forced to make other arrangements.

Of course if youíve been alive at all for the past few years youíll know that the economy is terrible and finding jobs is, well, to say the least, very difficult. However many of us have made it work (what other option do we have, right?) and my group of friends at the Mount have spread in five quite different career paths which Iíd like to share as an example of where the Mount St. Maryís Class of 2011 has landed just three and a half months after graduation.

Two of my closest friends have found themselves in the medical field. Duyen has just begun her first year of medical school at PCOMóPhiladelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She will have a total of 4 years of school plus 3-5 years of residency or hands-on field experience in a hospital. Duyen has been planning on entering medical school for at least the past 3 years. She majored in Biology and Chemistry and has been preparing for this stage of her education for quite a while now.

My other close friend, Sarah, on the other hand did not prepare for a job in the medical profession at all. She majored in History and Sociology and was not interested in pursuing more education after graduation. She searched for a job for months and constantly submitted applications. Finally she got a call to interview, and was offered a job. She accepted a position as an optometristís scribe which basically means she takes notes for the eye doctor as well as handles some office work like billing. Sheís only worked there for a few weeks, but is really enjoying it.

Another friend, Caroline, who majored in History and Theology is doing some part-time work for now transcribing interviews for a company. However she is also busy discerning a calling to the religious life. As part of this discerning process she will live with the sisters of her chosen order and simultaneously work her part-time job and volunteer as a teacherís aide at one of the schools the order runs. This is a very exciting time for her as she gets to experience living in a religious community and decides whether this life is right for her.

Finally, my friend Nicole just moved into her apartment in New Haven, Connecticut and will begin graduate courses at Yale University in just a few days. Sheís starting a Ph.D. program in Pharmacological Sciences and Molecular Medicine with a research focus in Cardiovascular Biology and Wound Healing. Nicole had some great opportunities to learn research skills and participate in relevant projects while at the Mount through close work with an advisor. So she will hopefully have a great start to her graduate studies.

I, of course, am teaching three courses this year and running the library. Iíve also just registered myself for some college courses to begin working toward my Pennsylvania teaching certification. To fit all of that in, Iíve had to take away sleeping, eating, and friendships for the next 10 months. Just kidding. But I will be pretty busy!

With all my friends heading in separate directions, the question arises, how do we keep in contact? The immediate answer for my generation seems to be Facebook. Though it can be convenient itís not an altogether ideal solution. Facebook can make conversations and interactions superficial at best. So our other options include email? Telephone chats? I like those options better than Facebook, but I donít like them as the sole way to continue a friendship. For a true friendship there has to be some real communication and hopefully a point where face-to-face meetings will happen. Nevertheless, emails and phone calls will have to bridge the sometimes months of separation that are inevitable.

While it will take effort to keep old friendships alive, it is a far greater challenge to make new friends in this post-undergraduate life. When one is no longer in a school setting, entirely new socialization challenges arise. For the two of my friends heading to more school, making new friends will be the same as it has always been for us when weíve changed to a new school. Here they will be more or less surrounded by people of the same age, with (most likely) high ambitions, and common interests. For my friend discerning religious life, the question is also easy. Sheís made many friends with nuns of the order already through her repeated visits to the convent this summer. The question is slightly more complicated for me and my optometrist scribe friend, Sarah.

Sarah is surrounded by ladies who are in their early twenties (just like us) but who have very different goals. Many of them are preparing for weddings, having babies, or caring for a few little ones already. While they are sweet women, they have little in common with Sarah, and letís face it, there are only so many conversations one can have about the perfect length for a train on a wedding dress or the best shade of pink for a babyís nursery. Also, she works with about 25 women and no men. That pool of people doesnít really offer much in terms of dating prospects.

I on the other hand will be surrounded by many, many teenagers as well as a handful of adults. Iím sure Iíll make friends with my fellow teachers and enjoy their company very much, but itís not the same as having friends your own age who are going through some of the same things you are. So where does this leave Sarah and I? Will we suddenly begin to frequent bars, looking for other lone male and female friends? I seriously doubt it. Iíve never been one to hang out at the bar or structure my gatherings around alcohol. Itís just never really appealed to me.

I think in order to make friends who are interested in the same things you are, you need to do some of those things to meet people. So, if you value service or helping people in need then you should make a point to volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. This way you are not only doing something you think is important, but youíre also putting yourself in a position to meet a potential friend or boyfriend with your same values.

Having shared values is much more important for a lasting relationship of any kind than a common interest in rum and cokes or Coors Light. Making new friends from different stages of life is part of growing up, but now, without a school setting where we are surrounded by hundreds of potential friends and given means to meet and befriend them, socialization certainly takes on a new challenge. Of course I plan on keeping in close contact with my Mount friends, but Iím also interested in finding new friends who live near me and are interested in the same things. Until then, I have plenty of work with the start of school to keep me busy!

Read other articles by Katelyn Phelan